Committee of Public Accounts

Press Notice (B) of Session 2003-04, dated 1 November 2004

Committee to Visit Northern Ireland

On Tuesday 2 November 2004, at 9.15 am, the Committee of Public Accounts will be holding an evidence session in Parliament Buildings on the Northern Ireland Audit Office Reports into "The Use of Operating Theatres in Northern Ireland" and "Navan Centre" , sited outside Armagh. Mr Edward Leigh, Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, said today that he welcomed the opportunity to visit Northern Ireland and take evidence on these reports from the responsible departmental officials.

He said:

"From the introduction of devolution in 2000, the local taxpayer was well served by the Northern Ireland Assembly's Public Accounts Committee. However, since the suspension of devolution in October 2002, its responsibilities have been transferred to my Committee. We now regularly include sessions on Northern Ireland business in our programme and we maintain a close link with the Northern Ireland Audit Office."

He continued:

"As well as scrutinising departments, our programme on this visit includes a guided tour of Laganside, which has been a success story for both the public and the private sector in Belfast. I believe it is important to recognise that Northern Ireland has made a quantum leap from the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s and that Laganside, in many ways, symbolises the wider regeneration of Northern Ireland."

He concluded:

"Through this visit, I want to send out the message that the absence of devolution does not mean that the public sector in Northern Ireland will receive less scrutiny than its counterparts in GB. I believe that the evidence sessions to be held tomorrow will be a clear reminder to both Departments and the taxpayer that there is full accountability for the use of public resources."

Notes for editors

1. The Evidence Session will be held in the Senate Chamber in Parliament Buildings on Tuesday 2 November, commencing at 9.15 am.

2. There will be an opportunity to meet Mr Edward Leigh after the Evidence Session.

3. Interested parties should contact Mr Joe Campbell (Tel No: 07803 046124).